Friday, November 10, 2006

Wants Vs. Needs

I want to be blogging more; really I do... I just have no time this year. It's my own fault, mostly.

See, first I decided to take on an extra class; teach six classes instead of the normal five. Lots of extra money, but phew... I won't be doing this again soon. I have NO extra time at school. Meetings after school often keep me until after the office folks have gone home and locked up for the day. I can get into my classroom, but not the copy room to make, you know, copies.

Then, we have the wonderful BTSA program. The latest meeting was yesterday from 4-7 pm. The day before a three-day weekend. Oh yes, just what I want to do to wind down before my three days... listen to someone read out loud the three double-sided papers I am totally capable of reading myself.

And -- I know, I know, what was I thinking? -- I took on a student teacher for a 9-week placement. In our district the student teachers are placed in a high school for nine weeks, a junior high for nine weeks, and then do a "Full" take over of one class in either junior or senior high for the second semester.

I thought, "gosh, if I get a good student teacher second semester, it will lighten my load a bit."

I always think that, and I'm always wrong.

Anyway, I took on the 9-week one, because it's the way to get in good with the local university teaching program.

He's a child. A rather shy, helpless, child. I'm not talking just age here, although he's barely 22; I'm talking about his absolute lack of any authority at all.

Here's what I think. Lots of kids come up in school doing well academically. They get their self-esteem from good grades. They get warm fuzzies from the teachers telling them they did a good job. On to college, and the same.

Then graduation and ut oh... real life.

Academics are comfortable and familiar and what they know... so... yeah, that's it... they think to themselves... I'll be a teacher!

Somehow, they get into a program, and end up "practicing" in classrooms like mine.

Mr. X (we'll call him). is nervous and scared of my little cream puffs. Says he's "lost" up there in front of them. He asks for quiet, doesn't get it, so ignores the chatting, whistles and donkey noises coming from the back of the room. He constantly is asking me what to do, I tell him about the classroom procedures, and he then says "I don't want to be super strict."

Okay. I am not known for being strict. Actually, most teachers think I allow too much nonsense in my classes. But, the best compliment came from a student last year, regarding my management style:

"You can have a lot of fun in Ms. JHSTeacher's class. Just don't be rude or disrespectful, and she's pretty cool."

I nearly died of joy when I read that.

Anyway, enough bragging. I'm trying to show though, that "super-strict" in my class doesn't exist. Even so, there are classroom guidelines, which the kids are pushing when Mr. X is up there, since they know he won't do anything.

I'm getting very worried. He's supposed to do a full two-week takeover soon (so far he's been doing mini-lessons each week), and he has no classroom management, no lesson plans for me to look at, and no ideas of what he wants to teach.

So, that's why I'm not been writing lately.

And, I've changed my mind about a full takeover student teacher next semester; forget it. I don't have time for babysitting any more children this year.

(Please, if you are a student teacher reading this, I know you are fabulous, better than the regular classroom teacher. You know all the latest research, you know about collaborative learning groups and total body response, and well, far more than a teacher that's just been, oh, I don't know... teaching 150-180 students a day for years. Just remember, you are a beginner. You can do this, but not on your own. Keep your chins up, and know that experience actually does count for something.)


"Ms. Cornelius" said...

I've got an observer who is actually afraid of my cream puffs. And I'm serious: I do not have ONE SINGLE student with an IEP this year, I can terrify almost every single one of them and probably make then cry with just a look, and that includes the captain of the football team, and I have actually taught them while whispering when I had laryngitis.

What the HELL is she talking about-- afraid of them? These are the easiest kids I've ever had! Now, put her in front of last year's third hour, with three of them with lo-jacks on their ankles, and sure....

If I have to tell her once again to get off her keister and interact with them, I'm probably gonna make HER cry.

Anonymous said...

I am sooooo glad I did not do my student teaching until I was over 30 and had kids of my own.

Having been a mom first really helped.

Yeah I learned lots of things at college, but not much that was truely practical like classroom management techniques, or dealing with IEPs, or well, you probably have the same list

I've been to a ton of workshops and have more books than I care to think about on the topic. So I've cut and pasted my way into what works for me.

Ms. Cornelius is right interacting with the kids is crucial, attending their games, performances, even if it is only ONCE a semester, means so much.

Good Luck to all of you!

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear from you again; sorry it's under such stressful circumstances!

Two student teacher vignettes:

#1: In a lesson on Of Mice and Men, my student teacher brings up the issue of Curley's wife not having a name. After some students pipe up with their reasons why this might be so, student teacher adds, "And, since women didn't get to vote until the 1960s..." WTF? I held my hand up in the middle of a lesson (not my usual cognitive coaching), and flat out asked where she had gotten that particular factoid. We had a pretty interesting conversation after class that day.

#2: Student teacher two, was so lackadaisical (she was the cream puff) she had to return to her own program because she couldn't actually teach my class.

"Super strict"? How about "establishing boundaries for appropriate behavior"? Seriously, it sounds as if your little dude doesn't even really want to be a teacher. Not ever ever.

Ask him again when he turns twelve.

sexy said...